We all want our kid to be the smarty pants in class. Heck, we’re even crossing our fingers for that academic, full-ride scholarship down the line. But did you know there are things you can do to boost your child’s IQ? It’s true.
Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, is a measurement of human intelligence given in the form of a score (or number) via several standardized tests. First established in 1912, many critics question if the IQ test is a valid measure of intelligence. Some parenting experts have begun introducing a new definition of IQ as “Imagination Quotient,” aka the “other IQ.” Both imagination and intelligence are an important part of child development and if you want to boost your kiddo’s IQ (both intelligence and imagination), here’s a good place to start!
9 Surprising Ways You Can Boost Your Child’s IQ
1. Avoid battery-operated toys.
High tech toys aren’t necessarily better for brain development. The University of Washington conducted a study in Seattle that found playing with blocks may help with childhood cognitive development.
A lot of high-tech, electronic toys market themselves as intelligence boosters, but these toys are all game-directed and don’t allow for creative thinking. A game that beeps when a kid pushes the correct button might be fun, but it directs the child rather than allowing the child to direct the game.
Dr. Wendy Masi, PhD says in this Parents article, “You want your child to be an original thinker, to understand that there isn’t always one right answer to every situation.”
2. Simple, old fashioned toys are actually better.
So which toys are best for developing a deep and well-rounded intelligence? Experts say that the simple, old fashioned toys like blocks and board games are actually the best. Look for toys that allow your child to build, create, or direct play.
The above University of Washington study found that children ages 18 months to 24 months who played with plain old blocks actually had better language development than those who didn’t play with blocks. Some of the best toys aren’t even toys at all, like empty cardboard boxes, milk containers, and old socks. A child’s creativity can turn them into forts, robots, and puppets!
3. Add “bored time” to your schedule.
Today’s kids are so over-scheduled that there is barely enough time for them to be bored in a day. Newsflash: boredom is great for kids! (Read the 6 perfect responses to the phrase “I’m bored.”)
An article by Dr. Gwen Dewar, PhD reported that free play promotes better learning, memory, and growth of the cerebral cortex. Kids who engage in non-structured, imaginative play develop language, spacial intelligence, reasoning, and mathematical skills.
Not only should parents allow kids to be bored, but they should plan for it. Stock the playroom with dress-up clothes and some basic props that will allow children to come up with their own games.
Reading does for the mind what barbells do for the muscles. The mind needs to read every day reports the Reader’s Digest and children as young as six months old who regularly read books with mom or dad show stronger literacy skills and score higher on intelligence tests as little as four years later! It’s safe to say that reading boosts our IQ as we attain new vocabulary and increase comprehension.
5. Be adventurous.
If you want your child to be a creative thinker and problem solver, then be an adventurous family. Expose your children to different activities, places, and cultures to show them that a diverse view of the world. Attend a multicultural event or cook up a new food once a week. Instead of visiting the same park, try out new ones in your town. Plan different vacations instead of the same spot every year. Don’t shoot down your child’s curiosity—if they discover a new path, walk down it with them.
6. Ask them what they think.
Kids ask a lot of questions and instead of just answering them, try responding with the question: What do you think? Give your child a chance to think about the question and hypothesize an answer. It may take longer to get there, but guiding your child through the question-to-answer process will help them become an independent thinker.
7. Get crafty.
Set aside the tablet for some more creative play. Too much screen time or battery-operated play turns your child into an observer. Instead, give him or her a chance to lead the show and direct play time. Crafts are a great way to do this! Get out the Play-Doh and a few kitchen tools like a blunt plastic knife for cutting, and an old cookie sheet for laying out their creations. Have finger paints and water colors handy or create musical instruments out of items in your recycling bin. Kids won’t even recognize they are learning!
8. Don’t be a lawnmower parent.
A lawnmower parent is the mom or dad who goes before the child, mowing a nice, easy path for them to follow. Lawnmower parents do the hard things so their children don’t have to. A lawnmower parent gives her child the $5 she needs to buy a toy instead of earning the money herself. Do your child a huge favor by allowing him or her to do hard things. There’s a great Ann Landers quote that says, “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.”
9. Use humor.
Finally, intelligence isn’t just about book smarts. Many psychologists and sociologists recognize emotional and social intelligence, or the ability to read people and situations and in turn respond to them intelligently. In fact, there is a big correlation between intelligence and humor. In 2010, the University of New Mexico studied 400 university students and found that high scores on intelligence tests correlated with the ability to recognize and produce humor.
You can practice humor at home by not taking life too seriously and responding to unexpected situations by laughing. Humor teaches a type of emotional resilience that can’t be learned from a text book.
Human intelligence isn’t measured solely from a standardized test. You can boost your child’s IQ (Intelligence Quotient and Imagination Quotient) by introducing them to a variety of experiences, allowing them to work through problems, and using a little humor to lighten the mood.